Palace disturbed by Wikileaks' release of US govt documents

Malacañang said it is bothered by the leakage of thousands of US State Department documents, hundreds of which have already been uploaded to the website of whistle-blower WikiLeaks.

Out of 250,000 US State Department documents that were leaked to the public over the weekend, 1,796 were diplomatic cables from the US Embassy in Manila.

So far, 220 cable messages from American embassies all around the world have been uploaded to WikiLeaks.

None of those are US-Embassy Manila cables, but they are expected to become available soon because the messages are being uploaded by batches.

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III expressed concern over the leak of the documents, saying that while the Aquino administration is "championing freedom of information," some information from the sensitive documents could be taken out of context.

"Sa pagbibigay ng impormasyon lalo na ‘yung naglalabas ng impormasyon na ‘to baka may sarili ring adyenda, imbes na magkaroon ng kaliwanagan baka...lalong hindi ma-discern, lalong hindi ma-appreciate ‘yung information. Pag kinuha out of context nagbabago nang husto ‘yung inilalabas," Aquino said in an ambush interview.

(When distributing information, especially this kind of information when the ones who released it may have their own agenda, instead of enlightening the public you may end up making it more difficult to discern, and the public may fail to appreciate the information. When information is taken out of context the interpretation becomes completely changed.)

Aquino, however, was quick to add that the Philippine government by itself has been trying to be "very visible and transparent" in all its transactions as long as the conversations don't endanger national security.

Privacy of communications

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said while the Philippine government does not have any information on what the documents involving the Philippines contain, the leaks "affect the privacy of communications."

"It certainly does bother us if information of such a highly sensitive nature would be disclosed to the public," Lacierda said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

According to the Associated Press, the cables provided assessments of foreign leaders, ranging from US allies such as Germany and Italy to other nations like Libya and Afghanistan.

They also contained new revelations about nuclear trouble spots such as Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea; and reports that the US used diplomats to spy on United Nations officials.

Premature to make assessment

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said it is premature to assess the impact of the leaked US diplomatic cables on the Philippines’ ties with Washington.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Eduardo Malaya said the Philippine government has not yet seen copies of the cables.

“We are anticipating what may or may not come out. It’s too early to tell whether this would or would not have an impact on Philippines-U.S. relations," he said.

Malaya said the Philippine government will not make any move to stop news agencies and WikiLeaks from publishing the documents because the issue is internal to the US government.

“These disclosures…caused great discomfort among our diplomatic colleagues. (But) It's out there in the open. So there would be no point in requesting media organizations not to publish," Malaya said.

Malaya noted that as a matter of principle, the Philippines "does not believe in censorship."

“Maybe a call for responsible reporting, but not censorship," he said.

The DFA’s Office of American Affairs is closely monitoring developments on the issue and awaiting for the posting of the documents online, Malaya said.

The US Embassy in Manila is ranked 44th among the 274 embassies and consulates that have the most cables in the leak.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said WikiLeaks acted illegally in posting the diplomatic memos.

Officials around the world said the disclosure compromises national security, diplomats, intelligence assets, and relationships among countries. – VVP, GMANews.TV